A year ago, chipmaking giant Intel laid down a cool $7.7 billion for security and antivirus developer McAfee; now, the company is starting to drop its first hints about the fruits of that acquisition. Speaking with Reuters, the head of Intel’s software division Renee James revealed that the company’s first security product will leverage security-related features that have been built into Intel’s processors for years, meaning the product will offer “enhanced” features sets on a wide range of existing Intel-based computers as well as future chips. The features should work on Intel chips released as lone as five years ago, basically covering the full range of Intel Core offerings.
The company has not offered any timeline or pricing information on the offering, but industry watchers expect to see it before the end of 2011. James indicated the offering would work on a wide range of computers, but users with Intel Core processors and the company’s new “ultrabook” platform would be able to opt for an enhanced security product that offered even more security.
James was clear that the company does not plan to build security software features directly into its processors, something some industry watchers had speculated Intel planned to do in the wake of the McAfee acquisition. James also noted that the on-chip features the Intel/McAfee security product would be leveraging were open to other security software companies, such as Symantec.
Computer security firms are under increasing pressure to retool their offerings in the wake of high-profile security breaches, take-downs, and defacement of public portals and Web sites. Although the companies’ traditional desktop security software generally does a good job protecting consumers from malware, trojans, and viruses (so long as it’s kept up to date), attackers have increasingly been targeting enterprise and cloud-based systems.